Monday, July 06, 2009

"River Evening...Or The Story Of My Life"

Enter, stage right.

Mugging, waving desperately to those few friends still sitting waiting in the wings patiently for my next grand entrance.

And… cue:

Those who have been kind enough to follow me for a little while will be aware that I’m a self-stifled creative. Once a prolific writer and sketcher, I’ve allowed age, work, love and self-doubt get in the way of the creative expression that used to be second nature to me.

Being a seasoned procrastinator doesn’t help any. I think about things a lot; story ideas, drawings and paintings, craft projects, journal entries. Heavens! even blog entries. I turn them around in my head, refine and polish them, commit to getting them down…and then I don’t.

Even I can notice the irony, that I’ve described my ex-husband as a serial self-sabotager when I so clearly suffer from a version of the same. In the early days of a relationship, we are all attracted not just to another’s sparkling eyes and witty repartee, but also to certain darker, hidden qualities that mirror our own fears and idiosyncrasies.Obviously this is one of those qualities that he mirrored for me, that sub-consciously drew me to him. For I wouldn’t want to consciously choose someone comfortable with allowing themself to be any less than their best…would I?

Without plunging us all into a lengthy self-analysis better suited to the privacy of a therapist’s room, I have unravelled enough of my psyche to realise that the habit of hiding my light under a bush, of resisting opportunities to shine, or even to explore the concept of being “okay but not world-beating”, began young. It had some roots in the need to smooth out my abrasive “differentness” as I enrolled in new school after new school in my primary years as we travelled, and then popped my bright little head up in a still-fairly conservative country high school.

I was different – I was extremely well-read for a child, and well-travelled. I was brought up to believe I was talented and special in an era when many kids were still being told they should be seen and not heard. Anything that I became passionate about, I worked at till I could begin to do it to my satisfaction.

Writing and drawing were my two main loves. I remember looking at some of my drawings when I was about ten, and realising that they weren’t good, didn’t truly represent the thing I was trying to capture, and learned for myself how to see what was there and not what my brain thought was there (the essence of the rightly famous Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain book and course). I truly believed I was capable of anything if I just tried hard enough.

My dreams of the future always had me working for myself in some creative capacity – most probably, the author of a series of best-selling and much-loved books, who perhaps dabbled in a little illustration on the side.

So what happened? What happened to me, and millions of other little shining stars? How did we let the doubts in, see the “reason” in Society’s expectations about how we made our way in the world and how we expressed our truest selves? I can remember quashing my Mum’s dreams about me entering art school, by telling her I could never make a living if I had to work creatively to a deadline, that it would smother my creative spark. Instead, I put it out myself, by not trying at all.

And there’s the rub, kids. What this is all about. Fear. Fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of being different, fear of just not being quite as brilliant as the next person, or fear of being too brilliant and not being able to meet people’s future expectations of our brilliance – it doesn’t matter. By not trying, by not attempting to build on my talents, by denying their very existence, I have created my own self-fulfilling prophecy which can reinforce all the flawed self-judgement that come after it. See, if I was really good enough, I would have done it anyway.

Well, I’m tired of living in fear. I have moved out from one kind of fear, over the last couple of years, but I know that I have plenty more to tackle. For someone who basically comes across as confident, self-assured, forthright, I am a master of self-doubt and self-sabotage. (There – I AM good at something. *hollow ironic laugh* )

Apart from recovering from the frenetic activity of the beginning of the year (staging a children’s event as a volunteer coordinator), I think I’ve been quiet over the last few months as these and other thoughts have been percolating in my brain. I’ve known for some time that I am well and truly ready for a change of direction career-wise. Twenty-some years of retail and customer service were not the future I envisaged for myself in those childhood musings, but they did equip me with some useful skills, not least the ability to recognise where my strengths lie. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last few months, both on-line and off-, and I know that I have something to offer, and that it is a move closer to those childhood passions, using some of the talents I was born with.

The saying “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” has long resonated with me. I know at times I have been living very much a half-life, full of compromise and doubt and a painful awareness that I was here to do so much more. I am a long way from having all the answers or even knowing clearly where I am heading, but I am shaking some of the shadows from my eyes and my heart. I am investing in my own future and the Wee Man’s, by staking my next moves on my own talents and abilities, and I trust that I will be able to rise to the occasion.

(I did this at about age 14. It is called - yes, you guessed it - “River Evening…Or The Story of My Life” - typically teenage melodramatic, but essentially true…my life then WAS about horses, and dreams, and nature, and drawing and myself. I still like it. The baby and the girl are self-portraits, by the way… lucky I got cuter as I got older, eh?)


•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

I am glad you can recognise where your strengths lie.

I wanted to also say how beautiful you are , just the way you are.

You are heading in the right direction ...just keep going.

Ribbon said...

What you have written here is a wonderful opportunity for you to use your wisdom as fuel for your creativity.
Move beyond your childhood dreams and embrace life now so your creative spirit can mature.
The child in you can be limiting as the adult is capable of so much more.

Who knows I could be talking from my bum!

I'm smiling.

best wishes and thank you for a wonderful post.
Great read.

Ribbon :-)

Ribbon said...


checkout my recent post... awesome creativity going on with a group who call themselves 'guerilla knitters'

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